I am the luckiest lady in the world. I am healthy and happy and my biggest concerns are 100 percent of the first-world variety. My problems are of the luxurious sort; my grief is the easy kind of grief.
But no matter how much I believe that my grief is silly or my grief is selfish or my grief is self-indulgent, my grief doesn't care. I can squash it down for a while, or tuck it away in a corner, or rub it raw with my joys, or scrub it clean and sparkly, or run far away from it, but for some reason I can never seem to rid myself of it, not completely.
For even though I'm pretty sure we are done having children, and are more than content as a family of four, there is always a lingering tug. At the mention of a loss. During discussions of multiples. It makes me grieve for those other ones. The other three. Even though we did not hold them, did not see them, did not name them, it doesn't mean they were not there. They were still there. I wondered what they would look like and who they would act like and I still do. I just know better than to dwell on it.
Maybe it's because we have it so good. Two amazing little beings that we marvel at on a daily basis. Two perfect specimens, exactly the same in terms of being healthy, strong, smart, kind, brave, cautious, silly, lovable, beautiful -- though so not the same in terms of how they present those strengths.
Maybe it's because we have a visual reminder. Infant Grouch was going to be one of a set of triplets. She's the fighter who showed her strength not only by bruising me internally with her repeated kicks in utero, but simply by making it when the other two didn't. When she was born, I gasped a bit when I saw the birthmark on her back. Two-thirds of a heart. Blood red. It's like she carries the fraction of the old whole around as a commemorative patch.
I am not the same as I used to be, for a million, trillion reasons. One of which is that I am a mama of two. Another of which is that I am not a mama of five.
One of my all-time favorite quotes, from Regina Brett, is, "If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back." I believe that to be even more true than we can possibly imagine.
When I give both of my girls a bath, my toddler usually asks to see her little sister's heart. Sometimes she says, "Ooohhhh," because she isn't sure what to make of it.
I assure her, it's OK. That there is nothing wrong with having a heart out there for everyone to see.